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Satorial

The WG is in full expansion, and all thanks to Internet. At the moment of writing SeeSat-L (yes, it really is an 'L', it's a List after all) has 85 subscribers, more than Flash has. Many of these people did not know about the WG yet, and quite a few of them are also not interested in observing flash periods. But SeeSat-L offers a forum of people interested in satellite observing, so chances of convincing one of the SeeSatters that flash period observing is fun and interesting, are pretty high. We have been getting quite a few new observers from our Internet activities. Over the last month we (i.e. Neil Clifford of the UK and myself) have been working hard to make a Home Page for the Visual Satellite Observer on the World Wide Web. These pages are now ready. They cover a wide range of topics, such as an introduction to observing, observing geostationary satellites, making telescopic observations, measuring flash periods, observing re-entries, observing the MIR-Shuttle flights, how to get orbital elements and prediction software on the Internet, etc... The majority of these pages were written by Neil Clifford, the stuff about flash periods was taken from the English brochure. Neil was kind enough to make the pages available to me when he lost his access to the WWW-server his pages were on. We merged them together with my pages about the WG and the Brochure, and will in the future update the pages regularly. The BWGS pages now contain almost all our recent publications like the Brochure, our program and recent observations, the complete PPAS and all Flash issues since Flash 90!

This issue contains a large section of Observational Flashes, reflecting the high number of observations received in March (391!!). Dan Laszlo and Jeff Brower also made some interesting observations of a Molniya flashing, a bit reminescent of the story about the unknown 'Molniya flasher' we had in Flash a few years ago. Rainer Kracht checked already : the object Dan and Jeff saw is not the one that was seen in 1991. This issue also contains the promised article on the synodic effect. I hope this article will shed some more light on a topic that was pretty obscure so far. Finally, this month we are adding a new aspect to our observing program with the DRA (Determination of Rotation Axis) Project. It is the logical conclusion of the preliminary work we have done in the last few months, which depended heavily on Mike McCants' excellent observations, and on which we reported in both Flash 90 and 91. The goal now is to have all other observers of the BWGS contributing to this project. More details further on in this issue.

I haven't decided yet whether next month's issue will be a double issue as usual. This year, the double issue may well appear in Fall, since I will be pretty busy around then, I'm afraid. Keep those articles flowing in by the way. I've chosen a smaller font size from this issue onwards, so you're getting even more value for your money now. This issue would have been 26 pages otherwise, something we can't really afford.

Bart De Pontieu



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bdp@mpe.mpe-garching.mpg.de